The Pittsburgh Steelers will play their 2021 preseason opener on Thursday against the Dallas Cowboys and that Hall of Fame game contest could feature the NFKL debut of rookie running back Najee Harris, the team’s first round draft pick this year. On Tuesday, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin addresses the media and during his press conference he was asked if the current plan is for Harris to see some action Thursday night against the Cowboys.
“He’s a rookie,” Tomlin said of Harris. “Man, he needs the process of game preparation and then ultimately play. We’ve got four opportunities for him to do that. We’re going to make sure that he participates in all four of those processes. We’ll determine how much he plays, but the preparation process, the process of readying yourself to play, it’s something that I believe all those young guys need regardless of their potential roles for us once the regular season starts.”
Tomlin went on to elaborate more on the preseason game readiness process aspect related to players such as Harris and others.
“I just want to get them into as many stadiums and watch them prepare and watch them establish routines that make them comfortable, that maximize their ability in a game like setting,” Tomlin said. “And so, I’m excited about watching him [Harris] do that for the first time. I think he’s going to learn and grow from it, aside from the actual play in the game, just the process leading up to play. And like I said, well determine tonight or tomorrow potentially how much that is.”
So, it sort of sounds like Harris is set for at least some limited playing time Thursday night against the Cowboys, That said, it sounds like Tomlin is a lot more focused on Harris’ preparation process for Thursday night and beyond more than his actual playing time.
Harris indicated a few days ago that he hopes to play as much as possible Thursday night against the Cowboys and the remainder of the preseason.
“I mean the excitement is there for sure, but there’s a difference between being excited and really to just know that it’s not the real thing, but it’s also like a good way to get your feet wet and let the game slow down for me,” Harris said about possibly playing against the Cowboys in the Hall of Fame game on Thursday. “You know, I’m trying to play as much as I can in that game, but what I really want to do is I want to take as much game reps as possible.”